What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Saturday, August 7, 2010


So continuing along my list production campaign here, and given the food poisoning bout that I waged yesterday, I thought it best to think about the medical and first-aid set up.  One of the keys to the medical situation for me is that I am not a big follower of "Western" medicine.  I have just never responded well to it and have had a tremendous amount more success with "alternative", "Eastern", or homeopathic remedies.  On a daily basis I do acupressure and Chi Gung exercises to help strengthen the immune and other regulatory systems of the body.  Me getting into these practices has a lot to do with a decent amount of allergies/sensitivities that I have.  Foods, chemicals, pollutants, etc.  I am allergic to most antibiotics, and pretty much all Western medicines not only contain medicine, but are also full of chemicals and preservatives which just put more of a strain on my body than they seem to do good.

I should also say though that I never get sick in terms of the flu, colds, or things of this sort and am generally very healthy comparatively.  I had quite some time ago been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, but must admit that I feel this diagnosis is a 'Western' attempt to quantify what in the East would be classified as blockages to the bodies system of transporting energy, which in turn weakens the body and its immune system.  I find that if I exercise, do chi gung, and eat and sleep properly, that I never have any problems.  The only time issues arise is if I have put undue stress on my body, exercised too much or too hard, eaten non-'natural' foods, am mentally/psychologically stressed, or don't get much sleep.  Basically, I take care of myself and I don't have issues.  I had been working too hard over the last couple days, running a lot, swimming, splitting wood, and had some drinks.  If I do not do these things, even food poisoning wouldn't be so acute in my opinion/experience.

The dilemma here is this though: I am going to Africa, and all the 'travel specialists' are going to talk about vaccinations, malaria medicines, and the such, yet all of these things will actually hamper my immune system.  My first aid kit will consist of band-aids and such, but will also hopefully have a quick reference card for all the body's meridians (energy pathways), as well as acupressure points for specific ailments, and Traditional Chinese Medicinal (TCM) options.  This is what I have found the most success with.  I know that most people in 'the West' quickly stick up their noses at these practices, but China and Asia are the most populated areas of the world, and have been following these practices for millennia...  it can't be all that absurd then can it?


Below is my "to be considered" list:

  • Vaccinations - The only vaccination I have to have upon being in Sierra Leone is Yellow fever.  However the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Rabies, and Polio.  I will probably be best suited to go to a 'travel doctor' to figure it all out.  But that will be a lot about finances.  I don't have any insurance, so I'll need to look into the cheapest way to do things.  
  • Insurance - thanks greatly to my brother it seems that this option has been covered for $60!!  (yes that is US,  not Canadian, Australian, Liberian, or even Jamaican)  One million dollars coverage, three months, West Africa...  nice.

  • First Aid - 
    • This one is going to be tricky.  So that know-it-all place REI has a check list for this that would be a good starting point.  I am going to be putting together my own kit rather than buying one as I will be working on a much more natural level than the cookie cutter versions in the stores.  They start with  
      • Antiseptic wipes
      • Antibacterial ointment
      • Tincture of benzoin
      • Assorted adhesive bandages
      • Butterfly bandages/adhesive wound-closure strips
      • Gauze pads
      • Nonstick sterile pads
      • Medical adhesive tape
      • Blister treatment
      • Ibuprofen/other pain-relief medication
      • Insect-sting relief treatment
      • Antihistamine
      • Splinter (fine-point) tweezers
      • Safety pins
      • Comprehensive first-aid manual or information cards
    • This is a list of their basic things to take.  Now I obviously will not be taking things like ibuprofen as it would bother me more than whatever pain I was taking it for.  I may take a natural anti-inflammatory such as Bromelain which I have had success with in the past.  Also Arnica gel is fabulous for injuries and sore muscles.  There are also Homeopathic and acupressure remedies that can help with all of this as well.  The gist of it for me is, if I haven't used something in years/decades or don't even know how to use it, why take and carry it?  My first aid kit will be full of the things I know how to and am comfortable using. 

    • The other thing is there will be medical care there for serious issues.  It may be a bit more of a challenge to get than jumping in a car here and going a few minutes away.  But I am thinking that my most possible injuries or issues are really going to be bites (insect or animal), muscle soreness or pulls, scrapes, bruises, ingestion, stubbed toes, etc.  I usually just tough this stuff out anyway, I should be fine with just some basic emergency and relief type things...
    • REI continues their list with a wealth of other things worth thinking about bringing, some worth consideration by me are:
      • Aloe vera gel
      • Glucose or other sugar to treat hypoglycemia (though fruit should be fine for this)
      • Antifungal foot powder
      • Knife (or multi-tool with knife)
      • Cotton-tipped swabs
      • Steel sewing needle with heavy-duty thread
      • Headlamp (preferred) or flashlight
      • Whistle
      • Sunscreen
      • Insect repellent (plus headnet, if needed)
      • Biodegradable soap
      • Water-disinfection system
    • They have quite and exhaustive list and I ask anyone by all means to recommend other things on this list as well as other possible options.  I know I have a medical advisor that will be reading this that will be helping me piece this together, but all suggestions are welcome.  
I am sure that there are other things to consider here, and they will come to light in time.  Anyone with any other suggestions please pass them along...  

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